Notice of Intent
Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Utah State Office, announces its intention to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of floodplain and stream channel modifications in the Coal Creek Watershed. A plan would be developed to reduce safety risks and property damage caused by flooding of Cedar City and agricultural lands, improve water quality, and address related resource and amenity issues for the community. The EIS will analyze the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of alternatives to the human environment, as identified in the NEPA planning process, including any structural and non-structural measures that would address resource concerns in Coal Creek floodplain. The purpose of this notice is to request participation and invite comments from all those individuals and organizations interested in the development of the EIS. Proposed Action: The section of Coal Creek that traverses through Cedar City, Utah has channel stability and capacity deficiencies that pose a threat to existing infrastructure and development. Typical summer, fall, and winter discharges through this section of Coal Creek range from 5 to 15 cubic feet per second (cfs). However, intense summer cloudburst events centered in the upper Coal Creek watershed during the past 100 years have resulted in several flood events with peak discharges of between 4,000 and 5,000 cfs. The peak snowmelt event on record is approximately 1,800 cfs. The NRCS, in cooperation with Cedar City, proposes to modify portions of the Coal Creek channel that are located east of Interstate 15 within the corporate limits of Cedar City. Channel modifications are needed to protect existing infrastructure and development from damage or loss caused by bank erosion or flood water from a 100-year flood event and to eliminate the portion of the 100-year floodplain located outside the stream channel, as defined on existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood hazard boundary maps. In conjunction with needed channel improvements, one or more irrigation diversion structures on Coal Creek may have to be relocated upstream from their current locations to eliminate existing flooding hazards. It is an NRCS goal to construct new diversion facilities that will improve irrigation water quality by removing sediment from irrigation water after it is diverted from Coal Creek. NRCS will also consider the option of locating the new diversion facilities to allow a pressurized irrigation system to be constructed in the future. New pipeline facilities would need to be constructed as part of this project from any new diversion facilities to the heads of the existing canals where the existing diversions are located. In addition to the flood control and irrigation system improvements, NRCS and Cedar City propose to design and construct a trail system and other Parkway improvements adjacent to the Coal Creek Channel that would enhance aesthetic values and provide recreational opportunities for community residents and visitors. Public Participation: The NRCS invites full public participation to promote open communication and better decision-making. All persons and organizations that have an interest in the Coal Creek watershed and floodplain as it impacts Cedar City are urged to participate in the NEPA environmental analysis process. Assistance will be provided as necessary to anyone having difficulty in determining how to participate. A Public Involvement Plan (PIP) has been developed and will be followed. Public comments are welcomed throughout the NEPA process. Opportunities for public participation include: (1) The EIS scoping period when comments on the NRCS proposal will be solicited through various media and at a public meeting to be held in Cedar City, Utah, March 10, 2005; (2) the 45-day review and comment period for the published Draft EIS; and (3) for 30 days after publication of the Final EIS. Scoping Process: Public participation is requested throughout the scoping process. The NRCS is soliciting comments from the public indicating what issues and impacts the public believes should be encompassed within the scope of the EIS analysis, voicing any concerns they might have about the identified resource protection measures, and submitting any ideas they might have for addressing risks to life and property in the Coal Creek floodplain. Other opportunities for public input include: (1) Once the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft EIS is published in the Federal Register, comments will be accepted on the Draft EIS for a period of not less than 45 days, and (2) once the Final EIS is published in the Federal Register; comments will be accepted for a period of not less than 30 days. The NRCS will provide a written response to all comments received and will consider the issues presented for study and possible inclusion in the EIS. The public participation plan describes responsibilities and outreach opportunities in this process. Date Scoping Comments are Due: Comments may be submitted by regular mail, facsimile, or E-mail until 5 p.m. MST, March 21, 2005. Written comments submitted by regular mail should be postmarked by March 21, 2005, to ensure full consideration. (Note: The scoping period will continue for a period of 30 calendar days after the issuance date of this NOI.) Comments postmarked after this date will be considered to the extent practicable. Scoping Meeting: A public scoping meeting/open house will be held Thursday, March 10, 2005, to provide information on Coal Creek planning activities conducted to date, give the opportunity to discuss the issues and alternatives that should be covered in the Draft EIS, and to receive oral and written comments. The open house will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cedar City Public Library, 303 North 100 East, Cedar City, Utah.